The Art of Insanity

Peachtree Teen. Nov. 2022. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781682634578.
Gr 9 Up–High school senior Natalie Cordova has two secrets. One is that she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, something her mother doesn’t want her to share. The other has to do with her car accident over the summer. Sophomore Ella saw the accident happen and knows the second secret—it was Natalie’s suicide attempt. In addition to managing these secrets, she must prepare for a prestigious art show that may be her ticket to college. Then there’s the dog Ella “blackmails” Natalie into adopting, a cute art tech who likes her, pressure from her mother, and a bigger family secret. As everything becomes challenging to manage, Natalie blames her medication, but her treatment plan causes everything to spiral further. Webb provides a realistic look into mental illness’s stigma, shame, and experience that some may find to be triggering. From Natalie explaining her condition to her friends to a discussion with her brother Brent about how they are told to “stay off drugs” but then “you need drugs” when it comes to her being bipolar, Webb here presents a story with educational elements woven in. Despite Natalie’s many obstacles, her journey is still shown as hopeful. Natalie’s experience with mental health is one that readers with their own mental illness can find comfort in, and those without can genuinely learn something from it.
VERDICT Highly recommended for library collections, this novel would make for excellent discussions.

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